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Monday, March 13, 2006

A Gossamer Thread

Posted by Nathaniel at 9:56 PM
ComicsDisclaimer: I don't review webcomics. Webcomics criticism is being dragged through the mud a bit as of late. But more than that, I feel it's relatively difficult to review something that isn't complete. But that's a debate for other channels. Right now, I'm commenting on something I noticed over at Gossamer Commons. But this isn't a review. It's commentary. Remember that.

I love my job over at Zoinks!. For instance, I got to interview Steve Troop of Melonpool for the April issue. I love Steve Troop. He's a great, funny individual with a unique perspective on the webcomics landscape, a perspective that I both share and appreciate. However, if you want to know more about that, you will simply have to get a subscription. I'm here to talk about Gossamer Commons. But I need a snippet from my interview with Steve to make a point. So, for those of you on the fence about whether or not you want to get a Zoinks! subscription, I'll give you a small sample. But first: a tiny bit of background.

If you know Steve Troop, you know he's currently on hiatus. The reasons for his hiatus are many and varied, but at the heart of it all, Steve isn't so keen on cartooning at the moment. He has stories he wants to tell, and he currently uses cartooning as a vehicle with which to tell those stories. I asked Steve a question that he indicated he gets asked often, and it's an obvious question, so it didn't really surprise me when he said what he said. I asked him why he doesn't partner up with an artist to draw the stories he wants to write. Here's one sentence he gave me that I haven't been able to shake out of my head:
I would team up with another artist, but I seem to have created characters that NO ONE can draw.
Now, back to Gossamer Commons.

Now, I'm not much for webcomics containing anthropomorphic animals as main characters, but Peter Venables has a pretty good comic over at 13 Seconds. Peter's style is messy and inconsistent and looks like it belongs on scraps of napkins in a diner. This sounds like a slam, but honestly, this works for 13 Seconds. I like this style in this context. Peter, as you may know, is the current artist for Gossamer Commons.

The former artist was Greg Holkan, who has moved on to his own projects. Over at Seppuku, Greg does a comic called [nemesis]. Greg's style contains bold, fluid strokes that bring his creations to life. It works for [nemesis] because of the story he's trying to tell, and the way in which he's trying to tell it. Just like Peter's style works for 13 Seconds.

Only, Greg's style worked fantastic for Gossamer Commons, as well. Peter, I'm not so sold on. For example, in this image, we see both Greg and Peter's take on "Malachite" (shown wearing his "public glamour"). Greg's is on the left, Peter's on the right. I submit this as exhibit A to my point that Greg simply knows how to pull a character together. He isn't just using a particular style, he has style.

I'll be the first to admit that this is really just my opinion, but basically I want Greg back. While Peter does have an expressive artistic flair, it isn't Gossamer Commons to me. Greg has created characters that NO ONE else can draw, and rightly so, no one else should draw. Seeing what has happened to Gossamer Commons in recent weeks since Peter has taken over artistic duties tells me that I should never have asked Steve Troop if he would consider working with another artist. Even if Steve only creates one Melonpool comic every decade, I believe I would still prefer it to seeing the Melonpool cast drawn by another hand.

In the case of Gossamer Commons, yeah, I want Greg back. He's not coming back, mind you. He'll never be back. But this new style just doesn't catch me like Greg did. I'm bored with the story. The art doesn't suck me in, doesn't involve me. It just sits there, messy and inconsistent. It makes me think of 13 Seconds, and not the Fey tales I was just a couple of months ago completely absorbed within.

I don't have a "you had me and you lost me" links list. I have an offlist (it's must simpler to say, I suppose). And I think Gossamer Commons is headed for that list. No offense, guys, I'm just not feeling the magic anymore.

On a somewhat-related side note, Eric--you have a lot of catching up to do on the responsibilities front. You may notice the creators page and the copyright footnote at the bottom of every page of the site; neither contain mention of Peter. Both contain references to Greg Holkan. While Greg was definitely an original creator, he isn't now. So, you might want to consider updating your website to credit your current choice in artist.

Or, are you secretly also hoping that Greg might make a return...?

3/17/2006 5:42 PM: Blogger Steve Troop said...

You want to hear something funny? I actually considered throwing my hat into the ring when Eric was looking for a new artist for Gossamer Commons.

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3/18/2006 6:50 PM: Blogger Nathaniel said...

That actually is quite amusing. =D

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